The 2023 edition of the “Passion for Europe” workshop took place from September 22nd to 24th, in the Spiritual Centre of La Pairelle, near Namur. It was the fifth edition of this event that aims to bring together people to discuss issues linked to the European project, from the perspective of Christian values. It is a project led by the Passion for Europe Group, a group of Christians of different nationalities and confessions involved in EU activities, and organised in collaboration with JESC. This year, about 40 participants gathered for the weekend, coming from many different European countries, from varied backgrounds and ages.
The weekend was launched by a conference of Daniel Calleja Crespo, Head of the European Commission Legal Service. He reminded the group of the achievements of the European project, of its growing unity, against all odds, and of the need to pursue and nourish common projects and values in a challenging environment. This conference was followed by many others, all touching in their own way the topic of the workshop “transcending boundaries.” Karl-Heinz Lambertz, former President of the European Committee of the Regions, debated the interaction between European integration and borders with Victoria Martin della Torre, spokesperson of the SD Group in the EU Parliament. Professors Jan Zielonka and Ferenc Patsch, respectively teaching in Oxford and at the Gregorian University in Rome, pushed the group to think about new models of communities and networks, beyond established borders. Philippe Lamberts, co-chair of the Green Group in the EU Parliament, gave a stimulating speech on the necessary ecological transition to come, with an emphasis on a socially just sharing of the sacrifices and efforts to be made, between citizens and companies. And the Reverend Julian Davies, from the UK, and Domenico Rossetti, Deputy Head of Unit on Research and Innovation at the Commission, concluded the session by sharing their hopes for an ever closer union, innovative enough to find new ways to collaborate, despite internal tensions and tragic turns of history such as Brexit.
But the interest of the workshop went far beyond those conferences and panels. The participants had the occasion not only to hear and discuss with all these distinguished speakers but also in between themselves. Formally, in small discussion groups that allowed everyone to voice his questions and remarks on the topic of the day, but also informally, through the multiple and varied discussions that took place during breaks, along the meals or even around a beer in the evening. Being together in La Pairelle for two days, in a quiet environment in the countryside, really facilitated the emergence of a feeling of community among all who were there.
More information on the workshop and the group “Passion for Europe” can be found on their website: https://www.passionforeurope.com/ The next edition of the workshop will take place on September 20th to 22nd 2024.